HK Stadium seen as viable venue after noise fixes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong Stadium has re-emerged as a possible commercial concert venue after the success of Canto-pop legend Sam Hui Koon-kit's concert on Sunday.

Events organisers said a new sound system used on Sunday and the lack of noise complaints from neighbours proved the 40,000-seat stadium was suitable for concerts, especially pop music.

'As an international city, sadly we do not have many good places for concerts,' veteran concert organiser Roks Lam said.

'And we are forced to give up many opportunities to see the performance of big stars as we have no giant venue.'

Sam Hui's show was the first commercial concert in 13 years in the city's biggest stadium, other than a few charity and special events, after Alan Tam Wing-lun's concert in 1994 drew hundreds of noise complaints.

'It's such a waste,' Mr Lam said. 'Many big-name artists and their agents told me they would not consider coming to Hong Kong as we do not have a big venue.'

The city's second-largest concert venue, the 12,500-seat Coliseum, will close for renovations from July to December.

At the opening of Hong Kong Stadium in 1994, the music industry was excited by the possibility of hosting big concept events.

However, the hopes were soon shattered by the outcry from neighbours about noise levels.

But improvements in technology have solved the problem, said Clifton Ko Chi-sum, chief executive and producer of Spring-Time Productions, organiser of Sunday's concert.

'We monitored the noise level near the stadium,' he said. 'Readings were all less than 70 decibels, below the legal limit.'

The Environmental Protection Department said measurement of the concert's noise level in a complainant's home on Sunday evening was within the limit of 70 decibels between 3pm and 7pm.

But the measurement was a little bit higher than the limit when the show was nearing its end at about 7.10pm because the allowable level after 7pm was more stringent at 65 decibels.

While some of the 30,000 fans in the stadium complained about poor sound quality, such as blurry sound and echoes, Mr Ko said the problems lasted for only about 30 minutes.

'We adjusted the system as soon as we found the problems,' he said. 'We had staff members in every corner inside checking the sound. And all the audience had a good time.'

He refused to reveal how technicians provided enough volume to satisfy fans but stopped it spreading too much outside the stadium.

'Sorry, it's our commercial secret,' he said. 'All I can tell you is that we had special arrangements for the concert's rundown and speaker installation.'

The stadium has spent HK$10 million improving its sound system, and Mr Ko's company also spent HK$1 million to enhance the sound.

Mr Lam, who was organiser of Hui's concert in the old stadium in the 1970s, said it would be wonderful if the stadium could hold more shows.

'The atmosphere of a music concert, especially for pop and rock music, in an open area with a huge audience is second to none,' he said.

Mr Ko agreed but added: 'You need a singer who can attract that many fans. There are not many such stars in Hong Kong.'